The Soft Pack: Strapped
The Soft Pack: Strapped — The first half of Soft Pack’s sophomoric effort, Strapped is the soundtrack to a flirty first date gone right. Energetic and waiting for a montage of fresh faced teens riding bumper cars, dancing in the street, and other cinematic moments. Opener ‘Saratoga’ is a perfect lead in, seemingly with no beginning, The Soft Pack throws the listener into their fun with catchy beats, it’d be ridiculous not to join. Their latest single, ‘Bobby Brown’, embodies the entirety of The Soft Pack‘s vibe. It’s energetic without eagerness, ironic without the “get it?!”
Around ‘Ray’s Mistake’, Strapped starts living up to its name. Tracks like ‘Head on Ice’ and ‘Bound to Fall’ exude a ‘fuck it’ attitude, as suggested by lead vocalist Matt Lamkin’s Julian Casablancas meets Brandon Flowers pipes. There’s is something deeply weary, even sad about his voice, despite the building beat of drums or guitar riffs. Thus the second half of the album, which becomes more of a post-frat party consequence. The poppy frenzy slows to a more self-reflective sound. ‘Bound to Fall’ is a perfect example of that “this is gonna hurt tomorrow”, with Lamkin’s repeating “I’ll end up down again” over a slower rhythm that seems to pulse akin to a nasty hangover. The happy-go-lucky teen music video earlier has now hit the early morning streets, making their way back to some tiny apartment. However, in true seasoned party-goer fashion, the albums revs up one last time for the finale track, ‘Captain Ace’ suggesting a cyclical nature to this behavior. At least The Soft Pack know how to end an album, dissolving into horn-laden cacophony; a last hoorah, with something you can nod your head to. All is not bleak.
In fact, there’s no true devastation or despair throughout the entirety of Strapped. Even in the self-deprecation of ‘Bound to Fall’ or the slow burn of ‘Everything I Know’ there is a sound only tinged with darkness. Because, to sound like The Soft Pack, you can’t commit to the depths. Their pop is not without an edge, but their appeal is only flirting with a fall. If you listen too hard to any track on Strapped you’ll find it doesn’t take itself seriously. But that’s the beauty of their sound. It’s about not looking too long in the rear view mirror and just driving… 8/10